Current Events

Parts Unknown by Phu Qui Nguyen

Been thinking about Uncle Tony all day. Even if I didn't know him personally, many of us would spend 45 minutes with him once or twice a week to catch up on his latest adventures. Even though I haven't sat down with him lately, he's still like family you see every so often and somehow he imparts knowledge that you can be sure is rough all the way around, dimpled in the flaky crust over a very humble tender slice of pie.

I had no idea what traveling through life was, what experiencing the people around a hemisphere and filling a lifetime with experiences and relationships. Who knew. He kept it real for us at home in a not a world not generally accepted for reality. Uncle Tony experienced worse things growing up during rougher times, only one could imagine and be thankful that someone went through this in order to give us some insight at the end.

People are saddened by some loss due his physical well being fading into the airy existence. I like to think of him as that Uncle that is out adventuring, finding the next best thing. Don't say boo hoo, he owes anyone anything -- he paid his lifetime of dues as a father and creator. Just glad he's still enjoying the hunt elsewhere. Thanks for all those good trips around the world all these years, Uncle Tony. May your family find some peace in this all. Cheers.  1956-2018

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New Year, New Camera, New Me-- February! by Phu Qui Nguyen

February 18, 2018 It's been a quick minute since (2 months to be exact).  What a close to 2017 and entrance to 2018 of life changes, new relationships, and places to discover.  Never one to be afraid to cross bridges, but these days, I'm okay with burning them down.  Don't let your time go to having to cross the same bridge.  Make new paths.  The world is a big giant place.  Something I realized that it's good to have your loyalties but don't be afraid to reach out to others and spend time to better yourself.  New heights.  Your loyalties will bring you up just as well.  Being loyal should also go both ways and there's always respect whether it it's to a person or craft.  

Latter year, I spent shooting with the Fuji X100f, after making a departure from the Canon family for the better part of 4 years.  Sometimes giving up the things you know most are toughest.  The departure from the DSLR left me with empty shutter sounds, and lost auto focus.  But it's all about adjusting and adapting to what we have right?  Well, the bad and good did happen.  If some of you follow my IG, I had been washed away in the holy crossing of a Maui tide pool.  Unfortunately I was only left with the aftermath as my friends quickly tried to save me. 

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While there's no turning back time, there is time to learn.  I did end up getting a new X100F to replace the emptiness in my heart.  But I also learned that this camera isn't enough for the terrain that I wanted to shoot.  I ended up having an A-HA moment and gear acquisition syndrome was all over me.  I ended up trading her for a XT-2 with weather resistant properties.  Much more suited for those Hawaii 5-0 rip curls!  At the end of this, I'm not as smart or perfect as I think.  Making mistakes along the way.  Expensive and treacherous, possibly life threatening at times.  While it's not always worth it, maybe it'll make for a good story or two.  Keep on, keepin' on.

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Eye of the tiger by Phu Qui Nguyen

Looking for some fresh snaps?  Let Gabe Dominic Photo make your life that much more awesome.    Reach out to Gabe for on-location shoots, magazine style edits, product media, and afterwards, you can talk about the latest food hype.  He does it all!  

Game recognizes game ;) Drop by his spot to find some goooooold https://www.gabedominicphoto.com/

Photo c/o of Gabe Dominic Photo. "She Run These Streets"

Photo c/o of Gabe Dominic Photo. "She Run These Streets"

The chase for fall colors by Phu Qui Nguyen

I didn't grow up in a town with 4 seasons.  Basically in southern California, we have hot, less hot, and lukewarm.  Some evenings get chilly, but I've had others (from out of state) visit during wintertime in their T-shirt and shorts.  So we often have to go elsewhere to chase the seasonal appearances.  This time, we found ourselves in Alabama Hills, located in Lone Pine, CA.  It's an out-of this-world rock haven.  Even though it was a busy weekend, camping spots could still be found whereas I've found trouble getting a space in Joshua tree if I didn't show up Friday mid day.  Spaces are spread out and we were able to have a whole corner rock stack to ourselves with the best views of the Sierras.  We journeyed through the Mammoth Lakes, hiked up the Mt. Whitney trail, dipped into the Lone Pine Lake and took the smokey views of fires in Lion Meadows Trail.  It's the best to explore for change in seasons at the moment.  The colors are the most vibrant in the season before the leaves start to descend.  Don't wait, the time is now!

Stupid tent blocking the Sierras, Oct 2017

Stupid tent blocking the Sierras, Oct 2017

Bama Hills, Oct 2017

Bama Hills, Oct 2017

Silver Lake, Oct 2017

Silver Lake, Oct 2017

Around Mammoth Lakes, Oct 2017

Around Mammoth Lakes, Oct 2017

Lone Pine, Mount Whitney Trail, Oct 2017

Lone Pine, Mount Whitney Trail, Oct 2017

The view toward Lion Meadow Trail.

The view toward Lion Meadow Trail.

Pray for rain by Phu Qui Nguyen

Fire, fire, everywhere in California.  What the heck is happening?!!  Unfortunately it's been an extremely parched season.  Even a tossed cigarette or cars sitting in traffic next to dry brush can have some strange effects when introduced to nature.  When two objects collide, a sudden, spontaneous spark of energy manifests and it's not exactly the power of love. 

On Monday, we were in a mandatory evacuation zone due to the fires spreading too quick to contain.  We did our best that we could to get family, neighbors, and anyone that needed help.  I'm thankful to witness local authorities were working hard to get everyone to safety.  

Thank you to the Anaheim Hills Fire Department, Anaheim Police Department, Orange County Fire Departments, Orange County Fire Authority, Helicopter Transport services, and and all those involved with their blood, sweat and tears to get these fires put out.  

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Big rock in the middle of the sea by Phu Qui Nguyen

And from inlands, I was headed out to the islands!  I know it's nothing special to most people, but we decided to do it local style,  spend time with family, dance party in the car, hike out to some special places, do some fishing, fish for avocados, wait what? Just watch!  

Along the way, we got out of the sun and up for a trail run on Waihee Ridge to round things out.  

All in all, keeping things different and fresh all the time will grow the mind.  Sometimes doing things over and over will put you in a rut.  Change it up like you change your underwear and see what happens. 

Whoa Whooaaaa by Phu Qui Nguyen

Hold your horses.  I should update more.  Been busy being outside where you should be too!  I'm starting to MLOG aka music log my trips these days.  Although I can't highlight everything there are some great moments and who wants to hear my funny voice anyway?!  

Earlier in July, I was invited to spend a few days driving with some of internet's finest Toyotas in Moab, UT.  You can follow along to the Top of the World and Seven Mile Rim Trail.  Thank you to Dev, Mas, Lau, Deb, Chr, and Pre (names shortened to protect the innocent) for making this a memorable trip.  Even with the troubles along the way, catastrophic axle failure, the team was able to venture on and enjoy the rest of the week.  

What a beautiful place on this Earth.  Where anyone can go, but sometimes you need a good ol' 4x4 to bounce and climb over land.  Thank you for taking us in Moab.  

Doing things a little bit different by Phu Qui Nguyen

Happy New Year!  I regret the lack of updates and posts.  I am more active on IG at the moment but only because I like sharing pictures with you.  Sometimes I want to do it all and get sidetracked.  Life gets real, real quickly and you know how the story goes.. 

I just wanted to touch on a thought today.  I recently thought why are we always reading someone's review and taking notes on the next best thing to emerge from that location.  Whether it's a location to shoot or best place for your favorite food, we tend to read reviews which results in a deliberate plan of action.  Unfortunately, it doesn't allow us to think out of the box.  

Recently I thought about all the travel blogs and reviews I read about, make some plans around that, and give it a go.  Well I consider that a little bit bad for any of us that are trying to find some originality.  Like a wise man once said, "There's nothing new in this world. There's only a different arrangement of things." (1)  As I pondered what I was going to do, I decided to scrap my plans which would have me doing exactly as someone else, gathering the same points of view.  On this day, I ended up hitch hiking around the city to get to my destinations.  Something some may not recommend.  They might urge you to take a taxi.  In my case, I have had more bad run-ins with taxis than I did locals.  

I'm thankful for these lucky choices.  I would be missing out on some very beautiful memories, otherwise lost to convenience and someone else's ideas.  The thoughts I was preoccupied with, trying to be somewhere, I decided I'd make it work around me. 

Hiking around the city to get to Amapura to see the sunset over U-bein Bridge.  I missed catching the boat to see sunset along the bridge horizon but came upon beauties I would have missed otherwise.

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(1) Henri Cartier Bresson on The Decisive Moment

Pack Light by Phu Qui Nguyen

So many people prescribe, whatever fits in the suit case, we'll take with us.  Or we have to make space for it because we use this at home..  but is it really all that necessary?  I'm going to go over my packing and how much it actually weighed.  Pros/cons.  Hopefully more pros for myself and you reading.

Traveling or Vacationing?  This makes a difference as well.  So many times, I'm packing like a vacationing.  Nobody told me the difference and as such, I've always brought more than needed. Even on a vacation, why would you want to bring a ton of things?  You're trying to get away from your everyday routine life!  Always remember that you can purchase what you need abroad. In some cases, it may be harder to purchase, but if it's important, choose wisely and make space.  My mistake in forgetting some small items like dental floss which are much harder to locate while traveling in a rural area, far from city locale. 

My items:
Lowepro 45L Whistler backpack
1 Neck pillow
1 Pair of Jeans
2 Pairs of Shorts
4 Pairs of Underwear
4 Pairs of Socks (maybe make one of those pairs dress socks?)
3 T-shirts
3 Tank Tops
1 Long-sleeve Athletic Shirt (for layers)
1 Outdoor Vest
1 Dress shirt (I didn't know if I was going anywhere nice so just some consideration)
Camera Equipment: 3 lenses, 1 body, flash unit, remote, batteries, battery charger, tripod
Misc: Universal adapter, Sunglasses, Phone, travel book, medicine, toiletries, belt, trekking pole

Total Weight:  28.2lbs!

 

For myself: I was backpacking 2+ weeks around NY and Myanmar, I had to stay light and mobile. Ever see the lucky people drop their bags at the check in and wait at the conveyor belts to receive their luggage like cattle at the troughs for feeding time.  It's an arduous and slow process.  I packed enough clothes for several days, about a week and was able to hand wash or pay for hotel laundry daily when I felt I was going to need something.  Easy peasy.  My undergarments are usually a quick dry, polyester or sport dry material.  This will help as cotton tends to hold water well and take a long time to dry.  
I'm not a rich man, but the value or having fresh laundry, possibly saving on check-in fees, etc, overshadowed carrying too much luggage.  While in Myanmar, average washing was 300kt (kyat) per item.  For 20 or so items of washing, it came out to less than $5 US.  21 items came out to $4.80 exactly.

What I would do differently next time:  As much as I've been trying to compromise on my bag, I realize it's a bit too much and too heavy for travel.  It's meant as an adventure backpack that's used for cross country skiers and the like.  The weight and suspension system isn't designed as well as other backpacking systems.  Also, definitely, bring extra under garment items.  I washed some clothes one evening but was in such a rush, I left it drying next to a fan when I went to run after a morning bus.  Being short on underwear is no joke!  

So now that I considered, tried, and tested my two week pack, I decided it was plenty for me.  I could probably consider less if I wasn't going through different climates.  In NY, I saw 4-12*C/40-53*F.  On my stops to China, I saw even colder.  At my destination, it was about 25-35*C/77-95*F.  I'm glad I brought a little bit less than needed.  I always had space to bring back more throughout my trip, so next time consider lightening the load.  

Cheers

P.S. Happy Thanksgiving Weekend to all my family and friends!!! (even if you're not in the US, I'm still thinking of you and thankful for your presence in my life)

Photo cred to fellow traveler.

Photo cred to fellow traveler.

Is something better than nothing? by Phu Qui Nguyen

I just got in yesterday from NYC after a 2 day hiatus from Myanmar.  It's amazing how effective jet lag is in keeping awake and asleep at all the wrong hours. 

I didn't have my laptop with me during this trip, so logging in with my smartphone was incredibly worse than a slow dying death (I assume).  Internet is really a new introduction to Myanmar.  6 years ago, it would be difficult to find cellular connection or internet booking.  Imagine the 90's and "free AOL" and what it would be like to unlock Pandora's box to the wealth of information.  In the past few years, Myanmar has leveled up in the internet ages and they've thrown out those old Encyclopedia Brittannica for Wikipedia!  These days, all hotels are connected and you can purchase a sim card to do so at the airport, but don't do that... at the airport, they'll scam you just as bad as the scammers outside.

I have lots of subjects to touch on.  Packing for such a trip, how to pack (for myself).  Being a travel photographer, what gear did I bring?  Watching out for certain scams, what happened to me and what did I learn?  How much money did I really spend on this trip?  All will be revealed.  Stay tuned!

Next time your friend tells you he lives in the Valley, make sure he means what he says...

Coming up... Myanmar 2016 by Phu Qui Nguyen

Things are getting real as my take off time rapidly approaches.  I haven't even booked my hotels yet!  But good thing, there's sweet trusty internet.  It seems like rooms are abundant, but November is busy season... so I guess we'll find out who's lying!  

I'll post my travel set up this time.  I'm going in hot.  With only one carry-on backpack, my trusty 45L adventure/camera backpack, no check-ins, and fewer items.  I don't know why, but traveling lightly seems like a better direction.  If I have space, I'll pack luxury items, but I mean that I can buy everything over there right?  This might be a hit or miss! Stay tuned to see if I made the right decision or not. 

Doing the Golden Circle of Myanmar, Yangon -> Bagan -> Mandalay -> Kalaw -> Inlay -> Yangon. I'm keeping this update short.  Pictures to come shortly of what I'm working with. 

Lastly, check out my IG for my latest work!  If I can't write about it here, it's going up on IG.  We just had an amazing session over at Black Velvet Pole Studios where we were able to one-on-one with Aerial Ginger  http://www.blackvelvetdance.com/  Ginger and all the ladies there are extremely dedicated to their art.  The focus and strength required was absolutely inspiring. Thank you for sharing your passion Ginger!

Guess who's an Uncle again?!!! by Phu Qui Nguyen

Hey friends! I'm an uncle once more! My sweet cousins, Frankie & Sandy just had their adorable bundle of joy, Nolan. And sometimes with good and very beautiful things comes conditions.

I'd appreciate it if I know you somehow, someway, some shape or form, that you could send some love my cousin's way.  Even the smallest bit or some encouragement for Nolan. Thanks for the support! 

Help Baby Nolan!  https://www.gofundme.com/helpforbabynolan

Help Baby Nolan!  https://www.gofundme.com/helpforbabynolan

Firsts by Phu Qui Nguyen

Remembering my first time in the San Gabriel Mountains...  September 16, 2011, I returned to sunny California.  I had just came back from working abroad for the year in South Korea.  Home sick, hopeless direction in life, and a break in relationships at the time.  I had more questions about life than I knew where to look for answers.  Where do I even begin searching?  

There wasn't an easy answer, not one that I could find retracing my steps.  I realized when I was slaving at work, I was making money, I had no time.  Now I had time, but not the most money.  I had sparked an interest late in my life for hiking and yearning for adventure.  With little money, what could I do?  My friend lived by the San Gabriel Mountains and suggested that we take a hike down Chantry Flats.  By no means is it a challenging hike, but we were looking for something more than just our responsibilities of adulting!  

That day, we walked down the 1.8 mile path to Sturtevant Falls was defining for my future.  The simplicity of a small stream running along the path, overhanging trees shading us, and fellow beings taking in a breath of fresh nature air.  I am still not sure if I answered any questions that day, if only to open my eyes.  I do know that life is just more than the tiny bubble we live in at times.  It starts as a path,  into a forest range, builds up to a mountain of rocks and then the rest of the world. 

I had brought a single bottle of water on that warm October day.  I was out of water on the way back and walking up the steep path, panting and begging for breaks.  From that first hike, the breaks became less an issue and more of where-to-next!  Crystal Lake, Mount Baldy, Wilson, my world blew up in best possible way.  Since then, I've come to adventure to other mountain peaks, but I'll always return to San Gabriel National Forest.  

The saying that you don't have to go very far to experience life pulled at my heart strings.  The friendships created, bonds forged, roads to be explored and dust that has yet to settle.  I'm eternally grateful for the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.  

 

This is regards to the San Gabriel National Monument blog contest.  

https://www.nationalforests.org/who-we-are/regional-offices/california-program/blog-contest

A crab in Sturtevant Falls?!!

A crab in Sturtevant Falls?!!

Here I am learning about what the trekking poles are actually NOT used for.

Here I am learning about what the trekking poles are actually NOT used for.

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Planning by Phu Qui Nguyen

I've been a wee bit busy getting plans together and booking some flights.  I was actually wanting to explore SE Asia again.  Behold!!!  Okay, it's not that exciting.  I ended up finding cheap tickets to Myanmar.  It's my first time back to SE Asia since.. 2011 and I'd hardly call that SE Asia.  SE Asia reminds me of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, but I was in South Korea, where everything is developed and it's one of the power economies in Asia.  Some of the best ways to explore is sometimes add stopovers to certain places.  Although it's not a stopover exactly, but I planned to fly out of JFK instead of LAX for a change and making a stop to visit some good friends makes it even more worthwhile.  Also along the way, I have a couple stops in China that give me a day to explore.  I thought I'd give it the ol' good college try!   

I don't think I'm any worldly traveler.  I'm just finding out that many things can be achieved with some research and decisive decision making.  Learning how traveling with credit card points and mileage has been a headache, but I hope to be able to share that with some of you all.  I'll be roughing it at lots of these spots and considering backpacking if I can pull out my sleeping bag somewhere.  But we'll see.  I'll be updating my travel gear.  Normally I have all my camera equipment, but I'll be traveling lighter and packed for only a couple days at a time.  New and scary is O-KAY!  

Meanwhile, let me update my trip from Istanbul this year in my next post.  It was somewhat hectic around the holiday schedule and I was lucky not to get caught in the crossfires of the socio political strife that has been occurring there.  And if you've been following the news, it was a hotbed of attacks and the recent coup attempt by the "rebel military".

More on this scoop soon!!

 

Double Post COOOMMMBO B-B-BREAKER by Phu Qui Nguyen

Feeling on a high right now.  I always had that unnerving feeling when pulling the trigger to make things happen.  You know that feeling you get before the final exam (not looking at the curve setters here!), all the studying in the world would not have helped.  You had to make a decision to ditch the country and run away to your nearest border and find refuge so you wouldn't dishonor the family hahah.  Maybe not, cultural upbringings!!  Sorry, well, so I always search and search and try to make excuses for myself on this unnerving feeling.  "It's not the right time." "I have so many other things."  "I have to x, y, z."  And believe me, just like everyone, we could always be doing something else.  All too easy to jump to safe routes, plan for success, and things work out.  Well, I'm here to say, dangerous routes takes planning too!   And not so much the reality of danger, but the possibility of the normal perception that makes futures unsafe, what-ifs, who knows...  

It's always, "The start that's the hardest," they say.   Forget the start.  It's hardest when you realize you have actual responsibilities.  Bills, children (I have a cute tabby cat), projects on the burner, projects burned and you have to re-cook.  Well you started a hundred other things, why should you start another is where I'm getting at.  Take responsibility, take hold of the things that are growing in your life before you can decide to be selfish.  All too soon, we likely choose to leave things as they were, and guess what they're still there when you left.  One hard realization that I've learned while working abroad was all the loose ends I left behind were still patiently waiting for me when I got home.  One step at a time is all.  So take a deep breath.  Make a list. And knock a few things out of the park so you can be at peace. 

Dear Buddha, God, Yahweh, E.T., please help me lift these boxes, clear these post dated checks at the bank, and watch my new borns for a few weeks as I need more than spiritual guidance...

Work work work by Phu Qui Nguyen

I feel like that's all we've been doing around here!  Naaaaahhhh-Tuh.  Not sure if you've been following our instagram feed at all located to the right of the blog, but we did a whole 5 days dedicated to @nationalparkservices!  It's a wonderful service of women and men that protect, conserve and educate our generations to come.  Our most recent post happens to be the oldest throwback pictures because I wanted to share some of my native land, that requires conservation of their own.  Much like any of these special parks and countries we can travel, it would be nice to protect it for future generations!  Recently, it's been in the local pacific northwest news that some people destroyed a local natural artifact made of sandstone.  This is definitely against rules of the playground, so why even start?  I know kids will be kids, but everything starts with respect.  Please be mindful.  

My prayers to a better humanity by Phu Qui Nguyen

Niceville. Nice, France. June 2016

Niceville. Nice, France. June 2016

Him. Nice, France. June 2016

Him. Nice, France. June 2016

Only about month ago, I was strolling Promenade des Anglais with my family and enjoying the sights and sounds of Nice.  The town has an essence of calmness as the nearby ocean sings it's heart in waves.  Today, someone sought to take that preserved memory I have of such a beautiful town and destroy it with their ugliness and hate for human kind.  As with any race, we have our human race since the beginning of civilization 6000 years ago, there is no trophy at the end of this one.  No "god" will reward you with any afterlife for being selfish and certainly won't tip the scales in your favor of reaching anything but a lonely end.   

As with all the troubles of these times, pray for Orlando, pray for Istanbul, pray for France, pray for the world, pray for tolerance to endure these times that we have to put up with.  I'm not down and out yet.  Get out there and stand together for your fellow brother and sister.  My condolences to the families and those related to Nice's tragic events. 

I told my baby that it's long past due, but we're going to make it! by Phu Qui Nguyen

Heyyyyyyyy (with a little flare)

Thanks for stopping by.  If you're here, I probably made you come check out my journey as a photo-capturer-of-the-moment-guy.  So most likely it's just family and friends, but if I just had met you or we didn't have a chance to meet yet, welcome, welcome!  Take a seat, put your feet up, enjoy the free ice-cold AC on this sunny heat soaked day, and take a load off as I do my clickity-clackity on the keyboard here.  

I had been putting off starting my page, making every excuse in the book about why I was busy and it was about to get to end of the land of Never Never.  Like many of you, we probably have tens of thousands of pictures that we have yet to share.  Social media has hired us to share as many pictures as we can and frankly, we're all sick of it.  BUT I hope you've learned something by stopping by.  Here there's no pressure.  You can love it, you can HATE it.  You don't have to respond to me.  You don't even have to pretend to like me like your least favorite relative.

This page for now is mainly for my portfolio to share some of my followed work.  Even though I use instagram, I'm not into the smaller than my eye can see 1024x1024.  We want resolution!!! I may share other things, non-photography related, D-I-Y, interviews, current events, and maybe lots of random thoughts and stories.  Thanks for stopping by.  

That-that-that's all folks.

Over and out!

Long time coming, Cover Page, Istanbul, December 2015

Long time coming, Cover Page, Istanbul, December 2015

Stand Up Together or Stand Out... by Phu Qui Nguyen

So a couple hours ago, the news reported a triple bombing at Ataturk Airport (IST), the hub for travelers flowing through Istanbul, Turkey.  I could never understand a shred of why this happens to innocent victims.  As if the dire consequences of life were not enough, someone decided they would be a catalyst causal of hate-fueled, misunderstood, adolescent teen-like angst.  Stop rebelling and try understanding people for once will you?  Not to get political while just starting this blog, but most of all my condolences to those involved and with families effected.  

A nice passage my friend Jessica wrote earlier:

"World peace begins within each one of us. If we can be nice to strangers, maybe the terrorist will have a change of heart? Maybe he/she will understand we are all just human beings and we are all in this together? Smile more to a complete stranger! Give each other eye contact like we are watching out for each other! Engage daily conversations with each other! The world of Internet has separate and us and that's why it made it so easy for these suicide bombers to attack! But don't let the enemy knows we are in this together and we will come together and protect our communities and country! Make our community tighter so we can know every one of our neighbors! We can find out where they come from and what they do! If this is a norm, the terrorists will stand out in our communities and we can help save hundreds of lives! Only human kindness will save this world.."

Istanbul holds a special place in my heart and nothing could take that away.  Not machine guns, not even explosive hate.  Bring it on!  I'll keep coming, sharing my experiences, delving into the culture, meshing my own learned studies, spreading my love for one another for your people.   Just try and stop me.

Istanbul, December 2015

Istanbul, December 2015